Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Cost of the Iraq War

To put Stiglitz and Bilmes' $3 trillion in perspective, it's worth
comparing it to the cost estimates Bush officials bandied about before
the war began. The authors present a damning "Nightline" transcript in
which one official, Andrew Natsios, blandly told Ted Koppel that Iraq
could be completely reconstructed for only $1.7 billion. (With the war
now costing $12.5 billion a month, Natsios' estimate would have been
accurate if he had stipulated that it would pay for four days' worth
of reconstruction. Which, considering the delusional nature of most of
the Bush administration's pre-invasion estimates, may have been how
long it thought it would take to rebuild the country.) Other officials
settled on a figure of $50 billion to $60 billion. Larry Lindsey,
Bush's economic advisor, went way out on a limb, suggesting that the
war might cost $200 billion -- a figure derided by then-Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld as "baloney." Rumsfeld refused even to offer
a range of estimates, saying, "I've already decided that. It's not
useful." He was right: It would not have been useful for those ginning
up support for a war to predict that it might cost $3 trillion.

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Edward A. Villarreal. Powered by Blogger.


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